Route 66 - The Journey Toward Success
Don't Discredit Any Gathering
I am amazed at how judgemental people are about attending networking groups or other business events. They attend one time and make an instant decision that there are not the "right" people participating. They never go back and forever hold onto that one impression. I think this is a common mistake that professionals make in regards to networking: they draw conclusions too fast and judge the value of specific people and organizations.
First, lets be clear. Some groups are not a fit for you because their mission and purpose are not aligned with your needs. That is okay. If you end up at an event like this by accident, do not feel you are wasting your time, instead, embrace the opportunity to meet diverse people from those you normally hang around. You do not need to attend again, but discover the serendipity of being present and make your experience worthwhile. Remember, you never know who you might meet who could lead you to future opportunities.
I attend a lot of networking events. I enjoy being around people and always find positive connections. There are so many business gatherings that nobody can attend them all, so I am not suggesting that you have to be "everywhere". However, you should be actively involved in your business community, which means you will regularly have to explore a variety of gatherings. Do so with an open mind.
When others are actively engaged with an organization, and you do not see the value in attending, ask them why they are involved. Assuming that your impression is the only point of view is not going to help you to grow and expand your network. Curiosity and acceptance will take you a long way.
I often attend a business group that is mostly attended by bankers, lawyers, accountants and other service providers. Many in town discredit the value of attending this group's events, since few actual corporate prospects are in the room. However, networking and building strong relationships with the key service professionals can lead to referrals to the prospective companies that I desire to know. I often get direct referrals or whispers of information from people I see at this luncheon.
Not showing up at all allows your competition to become the contact in your industry for all those very well networked service professionals. Ouch.
Many rationalize that being in the office and working is always more important than attending a networking event. It makes them feel productive, and they falsely think that being out at an event is just for fun. Let me tell you, networking is work, not "fun" (although it can be fun, too). You have to make an effort to build real connections with people. However, since it is from other people that we discover opportunities, if you are not expanding your circle of connections, you are leaving money on the table. Ouch.
Instead of looking for reasons to discredit networking events, a successful person will look for the good in every chance to meet someone new. Me thinketh folks protest too much about networking.
Have A Great Day.